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Requiem For a Dream [4K]

Other // Unrated // September 29, 2020
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted October 23, 2020 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Directed by Darren Aronofsky in 2000 and written by Hubert Selby Jr., who wrote the screenplay based on his own novel of the same name, Requiem For A Dream is set in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Here we meet Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), a retired widow getting on in years who spends almost all of her time glued to the television in her small, rundown apartment where she dreams of being a guest on her favorite television show. Sara figures that, when she finally makes it onto the show, she'll be able to pull herself out of poverty and live a more comfortable life.


Sara's son is Harry (Jared Leto), a junkie who wants to get into the drug dealing business himself, along with his best friend Tyrone Love (Marlon Wayans). Again, they hope to make some easy money and move onto a better life, even if it means breaking the law to do so. Harry's involved with Marion (Jennifer Connelly), who aspires to make it as a fashion designer, though her chances diminish quickly once she falls pretty to the same addictions as her boyfriend. While this group tries to solve their increasing set of problems, Sara decides she needs to shed some pounds and so she starts on diet that involves a whole lot of pills, soon becoming an addict of a different kind herself and, like the others in this story, she starts to quickly suffer the adverse effects of her problem.


Requiem For A Dream is a grim film, to be sure, but it's expertly made. Aronofsky really does an excellent job of getting the audience into the minds of the different characters in the film, letting us really get to know them so that we can better understand their triumphs and, especially, their failures. Of course, Selby has to share in the credit for this as well, this is his story and these characters are his creations, but the direction here is excellent and the film pulls no punches, especially as everything comes to a head in the film's last act. Even now, twenty-years after the film first debuted, it remains a powerful and challenging picture. We don't necessarily need movies to tell us that drug addiction is typically problematic for people, but Requiem For A Dream never feels like its's preaching, rather, it peels back the layers to show us how addiction can spread and how it can take on many and varied forms from one person to the next.


The performances are great here. Ellen Burstyn has never been better than she is in this picture, absolutely nailing it as her character's life changes the way that it does, and making us really believe what her character is going through once her addiction takes hold of her. Likewise, Leto and Wayans are really good as the younger junkies and Jennifer Connelly incredibly strong in her ultimately heartbreaking role. Notably strong supporting work is provided by Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser, Mark Margolis and Keith David. Aronofsky was lucky to be able to work with such a talented cast on this picture.


While it's hard to describe the film as entertainment per se, the movie does do a fantastic job of showing us both the beauty and the tragedy of life's many ups and many downs. Requiem For A Dream is a film you experience more than you enjoy, and while it isn't necessarily a picture you'll want to watch over and over again, give how devastating it can be, it is a film that most should and will appreciate not just for its narrative but for its technical qualities as well. Aronofsky and Director Of Photography Matthew Libatique use many different filming styles and occasionally even different formats to bring us into the movie, the editing from Jay Rabinowitz really accentuating certain elements of the narrative and character development perfectly, beautifully complemented by Clint Mansell's score. The end result is a film that hits and hits hard, a film that can be tough to enjoy but almost impossible to write off as anything other than a remarkably impressive work of art.


The UHD

Video:

Requiem For A Dream arrives on 4k UHD/Blu-ray combo pack framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p transfer features Dolby Vison and HDR10 enhancement and it offers quite a nice upgrade over the previous Blu-ray edition, also from Lionsgate. The way that this picture was shot, which frequently changes throughout the duration, doesn't always lend itself to crystal clear 4k clarity, but this disc does do a really nice job of replicating the movie's intended look and in offering up better depth, detail and texture when it can. Obviously some of the scenes that were intentionally shot soft or made to look like VHS quality aren't going to benefit as much as the more ‘traditional' looking material but we do get much stronger picture quality here than we've seen in the past and with better color reproduction as well. In fact, there are moments where the colors in this presentation look absolutely gorgeous. Really, if you're familiar with the intended look of the film you'll find that there's very little to complain about here at all, with this presentation providing a strong upgrade over what we've had before while still retaining the movie's deliberate style and look.


Sound:

Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio options are provided with subtitles offered up in English, English SDH and Spanish. The Atmos track is fantastic. There's a load of distinct surround activity noticeable throughout the movie and while there are a few spots where maybe the music is just a tad high in the mix, the score, otherwise, sounds damn near perfect. Dialogue stays clean and clear, the track is usually nicely balanced and there's a whole lot of depth here to the mix that should ‘wow' most fans.


Extras:

There are no new extra features here at all but everything from the last Blu-ray release has been carried over. That means we can an audio commentary with Director Darren Aronofsky that covers the making of the film from his perspective and goes into detail on the scrip, the cast and more. A second audio commentary gets Director Of Photography Matthew Libatique in front of the mic to talk about what it was like working with Aronofsky, how certain scenes were shot and way and lots more. Both of these are pretty detailed if you haven't heard them before.

As far as featurettes go, Ellen Burstyn On Requiem For A Dream is a sixteen-minute piece where the actress talks about how she came to be interested in the project after seeing Pi despite not initially wanting to do the picture. She also talks about Aronofsky as a director and some of her co-stars. Transcendent Moments: The Score For Requiem For A Dream is a seventeen-minute bit with Composer Clint Mansell where he speaks about what was involved with coming up with the film's score. Revisiting Requiem For A Dream spends thirteen-minutes with Bruce Isaacs who comments on his experiences on the picture and details the history of the production.


We also get a six-minute behind the scenes featurette called On Set: 1999, menus and chapter selection.


As this is a combo pack release we also get a standard Blu-ray disc included inside that includes the thirty-five-minute The Making Of 'Requiem for a Dream' featurette, a twenty-minute featurette entitled Memories, Dreams, & Addictions: Ellen Burstyn Interviews Hubert Selby, Jr., some deleted scenes with optional commentary from the director, and a few teasers and trailers that aren't on the UHD disc. Also bundled inside the black Blu-ray sized keepcase is an insert with a code that can be redeemed for a digital download of the movie. Lionsgate also includes a slipcover with this release.


Final Thoughts:

Requiem For A Dream is hardly ‘feel good movie of the year' material, but it is a very well done movie with some absolutely perfect performances in it. It is, at times, an assault on the senses but rarely has a film tackled the subject of drug use and addiction as potently as Aronofsky did with this movie. Lionsgate doesn't bring anything new to this release in terms of extra features, but it does carry over everything from the previous release and give the feature itself, always the most important aspect, an impressive 4k upgrade. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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Highly Recommended

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